My first post of this series, ATG Oracle Commerce – Planning for the Future – Part 1 – Great Beginnings, laid out the origins of the ATG Oracle Commerce platform and some of its many strengths. My second post, ATG Oracle Commerce – Planning for the Future – Part 2 – Current State, made a strong case that the once-great platform is now withering on the vine due to neglect.
Based on that premise, every company currently relying on ATG Oracle Commerce, needs to figure out a new plan and a new platform. In this post I will offer recommendations for extending the runway of usefulness of your current ATG Oracle Commerce site and how to best prepare yourself for a migration to another platform.
If you are running your eCommerce channel on ATG Oracle Commerce, you have undoubtedly made significant investments into the platform and your website. Changing platforms will be a great deal of work, with high costs and serious time commitments needed. So let’s talk about ways you can get the most out of your investment in your current site, and how to set yourself up for a successful platform migration down the road.
My first recommendation is if you are still on an old processor or CPU based license, to work to get that moved to a metrics based license. The many limitations of the old style of license hamstring your ability to get the most of out of your application today. You need to be on a metrics based license, or EULA, to move to the Cloud.
Second, I recommend taking a serious look at moving your application hosting to AWS. To be clear, AWS is not a panacea for all your hosting headaches. It likely won’t save you money, at least not at first. The primary benefit to running your ATG Oracle Commerce application on AWS is flexibility. This flexibility allows you to quickly change your environment, to create or destroy development or testing environments. You gain the ability to evolve your infrastructure footprint painlessly as you transform your website and eventually migrate away from ATG Oracle Commerce.
Shameless plug: If you would like assistance in analyzing, planning, or executing a move to AWS with your ATG Oracle Commerce application, the team at Black Magic Consulting can help!
Cloud Enable ATG Oracle Commerce
Third, while it isn’t easy, you CAN get your ATG Oracle Commerce application to do “Cloud” things like auto-healing and auto-scaling. As I mentioned in the last post, there are fundamental architecture requirements that make this very difficult, as compared to a more modern cloud-native or stateless architectural approach. However the right team can do it. (Another shameless plug here 🙂 ). This is where moving to AWS becomes really worth it.
Auto-healing across availability zones not only gives you some measure of DR (albeit in a nearby geographic location) but also alleviates issues with hardware failure impacting traditionally singleton ATG instances such as Fulfillment, CSC, BCC, etc. Whether you lose a server, or a whole data center/availability zone, your entire ATG Oracle Commerce cluster will still be running perfectly, not just the storefront servers.
Auto-scaling obviously allows you to handle traffic increases without sacrificing performance or stability. Fully automated auto-scaling handles the daily ebbs and flows of traffic, but can also handle holiday and event based traffic spikes, or unexpected influxes of shoppers. It’s one of the big promises of the Cloud, and you can have it with your current ATG Oracle Commerce site.
The other big win, with an auto-scaling solution for your website, is that you can use relatively small instances (servers), and have your cluster always be right-sized for your current traffic. In turn, this almost always brings cost savings, often very significant savings. Instead of having to provision your production cluster for your weekly or monthly peak traffic plus some healthy safety margin, you can literally pay only for the hardware you need at the moment, minute by minute. Right-sizing is where you’ll get real cost savings by moving to AWS.
Advance your DevOps
Fourth, you can also leverage proper DevOps to do things like shut down testing environments when they are not in use, even if it’s just overnight. You can spin up development and testing environments so that new projects have their own work areas, and use CI/CD to optimize your development and testing efforts. And if things are done right, you don’t have to worry nearly as much about backups, manually setting up environments, typos and human errors. You can manage large numbers of complex ATG Oracle Commerce environments using modern tools and automation like TerraForm, CloudFormation, SFN, Ansible, Docker, and more.
Lose Your Head
Finally, and most importantly, regardless of where or how you host your application, migrating to a headless architecture might be the best thing you can do to prepare for the future. Many companies have already done this, or are in the process of doing it. Again, I don’t think this is magical solution. In fact I have serious reservations about the performance and general complexity of headless eCommerce solutions. That said, decoupling your front end and back end, and working toward a headless and micro-services based approach, can set you up for future success.
A headless approach means that when you’re ready to migrate to a new eCommerce platform, or collection of point solutions, you can keep your front end and most of your business logic intact. A headless micro-services approach also means that you can either cut over all at once, or more conservatively, you can migrate your back end solution over time, which can reduce costs and risks substantially.
Even if you don’t know what is next for your company, from an eCommerce platform and technology standpoint, all of the above advice can help you maximize your investment in your current site. You can save money, gain features and flexibility, and prepare yourself for whatever the future brings.
Great series of articles! You nailed it. It is unfortunate that Oracle did not invest and update the ATG platform. Your recommendations are very sound. I’ve seen a lot of people move to AWS and it does provide increased flexibility.
I agree. I am, if anything, and absolute die-hard ATG Oracle Commerce fan. Its been my focus for 22 years and I started my career at ATG. I’m not trying to bash the product or anyone working on it. I really wish I’d seen continued investments in the on-premise product. But these days, working with some newer technologies and platforms, really makes it clear how little work has gone into the on-prem product in the past 5+ years:(
I was slow to come around to the value of AWS (or other cloud solutions) but the flexibility wins are pretty impressive!